Tag Archives: Life

Happier today: 10 Things You Should Stop Doing Right Now

First of all I must put the disclaimer message that this post is not an original creation. It was a forwarded message by a dear friend D, I do not have details of its origin to give appropriate credits. I have been thinking to start writing on this space regularly soon and somehow it doesn’t happen. I have been planning on the post and the idea behind the post was there somewhere inside my subconscious, and when I happened to read this mail I was like this is exactly what I had in my mind. The mail was perfect in reflecting the thoughts of my subconscious mind. So without wasting further time and reinventing the wheel I will share something which I have been feeling a lot lately.

Happiness (Image: Google Images)

1.Wait for a better time. There is never a good time to do anything especially if that’s something you have been putting off for a while. There is never a good time to start exercising or learning a new language… You make the time for these things if they are important to you – make them important enough for the good time to be now.

2.Hate people. It’s such a negative emotion and it really doesn’t lead anywhere. In most cases, hating someone directly affects you and you alone, making your mood and your day that much worse. By talking behind someone’s back and spreading negative energy you’ll just push people you actually care about away. Let go of it and make room for good and positive things.

3.Constantly look back. What has happened in the past is now in the past – you have learned, hopefully, from your mistakes and it’s time to move on. Until you can let go of the past you cannot live in the present, plan for the future and grow as a person. After all, your life from before doesn’t define who you are today, your present actions do.

4.Think about people who make no difference in your life. Whether they are people from your past or your present if they don’t affect you directly why waste your precious time on them? This also applies to spreading and listening to rumors, reading celebrity columns and checking people’s statuses online. You only have one lifetime why should you give people you don’t really care about any of it?

5.Whine about life, the Universe and everything. Yes, there are days that it’s just impossible to smile and take things as they come but what does whining achieve, exactly? What is the point of complaining about the weather, politics or prices – what would that change? Unless you have a clear plan on what to do and how to make things better why spread the misery and the negative vibes? If you see a problem – do something, do anything! The light doesn’t work in your block of flats – fix it or find someone who will. Things that are not under your control and you cannot in any way influence them – learn to live with them and accept them as they are.

6.Play social games. No one really cares about your clothes or your level of intelligence, not really. It’s way better to just be authentic and show people who you really are, with all your flaws and true character rather than waste energy on superficial interactions – they don’t lead to anything but superficial relationships. Be yourself and be real, let others love you and accept you the way you are. Genuine relationships will make you happier, and you’ll only form these relationships once you stop trying to impress everyone you meet and start being yourself.

7.Spend money on things you don’t need. We often mistake the “I want” for “I need” when buying stuff just because it seems cool to own it. Things don’t make you happy for very long – the moment you get it you experience joy but shortly after that joy is gone and the newly acquired item joins the rest in your house. Think very carefully whether you absolutely in need of something or you just want to own it.  Invest in experiences instead – experiences that will stay with you in your memory for the rest of your life.

8.Compare yourself to others. Very often we look around and we see people who are doing a lot better than we are and we don’t really notice those who are doing a lot worse. At times we look around and all we can see is everyone else having it easier and having it better and we feel bad about our own life. The fact is, it’s not easy for anyone and everyone has their own problems. What you see on the outside is what others let you see, always. Someone else is looking at you and thinking just about the same thing: “you are the lucky one” and they have their own reasons to say that. By thinking that having someone else’s life or someone else’s problems will make you happier than you make yourself in the now you rob yourself of the chance to take joy in what you have for yourself already. We can be happy with very little and immensely unhappy with having it all – sometimes, it’s just a matter of perspective.

9.Take no chances. Sometimes we wait for a sure thing to come along for us to follow and then, when it never comes, we wonder why nothing wonderful and exciting ever happens to us. It’s true not just in regard of opportunities but also people. Sometimes people also need to be given a chance to prove you wrong. We often overthink, overanalyze and create possible scenarios in our head – then come up with the most negative outcome, and end up never trying anything at the end of the day. If you are truly afraid of something going wrong, ask yourself: “What is the worst thing that can happen?” and if you can live with that worst case scenario – maybe you should give it a try.

10.Set no goals. If we set no goals how do we expect to get anywhere at all? Life has the tendency to decide for us and take us down routes we never thought we would ever consider for ourselves – don’t let it dictate it all, reclaim some of the control back and influence your future. If you have a plan, a good or a bad one, at least you have one and you can guide yourself to a better tomorrow, want a better tomorrow at any rate. We often give up and just let events take over, but reacting all the time is not the same as acting of your own free will. Take control back, set targets and get a strategy for life because just living the same Groundhog day over and over again just isn’t living. Life only has a meaning when you give it one.

 

So with this post I am back and hopefully if you are still reading this space you will get to hear more of my rants. Till then Adios and Disfrute de la vida.

Writing a Statement of Purpose (SOP)- Do’s & Don’ts

The discussion started when one of my colleagues got an interview call from IIM Bangalore for their prestigious two year full time PGP program and he asked me to help him with his SOP. Since I have been exposed with both sides of the table attending and conducting interviews; the idea floated that I should put some tips or pointers for people writing SOP.

1- Purpose– It is not called the Statement of Purpose for nothing. Decide on a theme which you think is most relevant and in line with the objectives you want to convey to the panel reading your SOP. The purpose should eventually relate to the type of course or job you are going to pursue. This theme is something which should be common and reflect in all your answers, attitude and the statement of purpose. It is always advisable to introspect deeply and find the reason why you’re applying to a course or appearing for a particular exam/job. The answer obtained out of such introspection would form a great theme for binding the entire SOP together.

2- Background, Education and Work Experience– Your family, the environment and places you grew up can be a part of the SOP; but ensure the context such that subtly the backgrounds relate to the underlying theme of the SOP while indicating its contribution towards the person you are and the choices you are making today. Illustrate your education and work experience in a fashion that it looks like a series of events occurring by your choice all with a rationale of underlying theme. Elaborate on some specific aspects of your education or work which will be of value in the course you are trying to pursue.  Don’t mention this for the sake of it, especially if it doesn’t fit the theme they belong in your resume not in the SOP.

3- Future Plans– Delve deeper into the courses, subjects (if you haven’t researched, do it first) how they form the part of your long term and short term goal. This is the most important section of your SOP try to bring as much of facts on the paper and relate them with the theme and purpose. Any panel loves a candidate who knows what he is doing and why.

4- Hobbies-The SOP should include the extra-curricular interests and how they have developed you as a person. Relate these interests or hobbies very subtly if you can with the theme of the SOP.

5- Story– All the SOP in the end should form a small story of your life(past, present and most importantly future) subtly indicating that why the course you are pursuing or the job you are applying to is the most logical step in the story of your life.

6- 3Cs – Always remain Consistent, Clear and Concise while writing SOPs. Never contradict yourself in an SOP it is always a recipe for disaster. Avoid ambiguity of any kind, in a stress interview an ambiguous line might hijack your entire interview in a direction you never envisaged. Be concise, as a candidate you write one SOP and would like to showcase all your achievement.

Things not to do in an SOP-

1- Never use Slangs/SMS Lingo Phrases.

2- Use Quotations to glorify the SOP. It is not only weird to see quotes instead of candidates original words in an SOP but at times there have been instances when the interview  went towards the author of the quote and his other works as he was the favorite author of a member in the panel.

3- Use very flowery vocabulary- If the panel wanted to test your vocabulary they would have done it in the entrance test; think of the plight of the person who has to read 50 SOPs in a day and he has to refer to the dictionary to understand what the candidate is trying to say.

4- No Spelling and Grammatical Mistakes

5- Avoid abbreviations- Apart from the common and well known abbreviations avoid the rest in your SOP. When in doubt prefer the complete word/phrase over the abbreviation

 

Is there anything else you feel should be taken care while writing the SOPs?

Disclaimer: SOPs are a very personal and intense document to write and prepare. The above Do’s  & Don’ts are based on the author’s personal experience. The readers are advised to use their judgment and belief while writing the SOP.

Ebooks: Books to Binary

I had told Smita and Shilpa two of my great blog buddies that I would do a post on e-readers because I was seriously convinced that I would buy one. Now that I have got a tablet for myself with primary objective of switching my reading digitally; I feel that I am ready to do a post as I have experienced the digital reading first hand.

It was a very tough decision to let go the habit of buying the physical books and switch to digital formats. As a matter of fact I remember in one of the posts I had written that I would never like to switch to digital reading but then people change over time. As any change you bring about there are both positive and negative aspects of switching your reading digital. To provide an objective perspective I will enlist the advantages and disadvantages of reading the books digitally.

Advantages-

1-      Space: The space crunch especially for people living in the apartments is a perennial problem. Just to highlight the economic impact, ideally a physical book takes around 0.25 SQFT of space and the rentals in Bangalore around Rs. 15/SQFT/month, keeping a book for a month costs Rs. 3.75. For a person like me who has a collection close to 500 books presently, I am paying close to 2000 bucks for keeping the books. This was the major motivation for me to make the switch, after exhausting almost all the space I had in my home for books I didn’t have place to keep the new ones.

2-      Convenience: A tablet or a reader can hold multiple books at the same time so you can carry all of them with ease while travelling. You save yourself from the task of selecting what books to carry when you are on the move; also it reduces the baggage weight which is of paramount importance in flights. There have been times that I actually had to discard books on the airport because airlines were expecting me to pay Rs 300/Kg for the excess baggage.

3-       Privacy: A lot of times while reading you would not want the world to know what you are reading. Online reading ensures that anybody passing by doesn’t know what you are reading. I got a lot of weird stares from people in general when I was reading 50 Shades of Grey, so digital reading might save me some unwanted attention.

4-      Maintenance: Keeping the books and shelves clean when you have so many books is a herculean tasks which is not required for the tablets. Also disposing books is also not an issue you can simply archive and retrieve when you want to read again.

5-      Multiple Devices: I have multiple devices like a smart phone, tablet and a laptop whatever I am reading is available and synced on all the devices. So no matter where I am I would have my reading material. There have been times when I have gone for a meeting and had to wait for the other person. I wasn’t carrying my tablet but I continued my reading on the phone and once I reach home I can continue the book from where I left on my phone.

6-      Reference & Sharing: You can easily bookmark pages, refer to dictionaries and share lines/quotes directly with just few clicks which make the reading a more fulfilling experience. In physical books to do all this you have to ear mark books, sit with a dictionary and a computer which is cumbersome.

Disadvantages-

1-      Look & Feel: It takes a bit of time and effort to get adjusted to reading on the digital formats. For me the Sepia mode on the tablet worked very well. However, if you still feel that you don’t like the backlit displays try Kindle Paperwhite (in India it is available for Demo in Croma) which is closest to the real paper.

2-      Handling: The tablets and e-readers are electronic devices and their handling has to be more delicate compared to books.

3-      Lending: I am not sure if this is a advantage or a disadvantage  but being digital you cannot share or lend your books J

4-      Lack of Books: This is a problem when it comes to Indian Authors, not all titles are available online. Sometimes the Indian books are ridiculously priced too, for example Sidin’s latest book “Who Let The Dork Out” was initially priced at 10.58$ while the physical on flipkart is Rs. 121. Though later the prices were rationalized at 2$ but this kind of discrepancies exist.

5-      Charging: The digital format requires charging of the devices at regular interval. Though there are some Kindle devices which last for a month with a single charge but overall most devices need constant charging. The devices I have used are fine if you charge them once in couple of days and I haven’t been left stranded without charge till now, so I guess it is not a deal breaker.

So this is my take on the E-readers and tablets for reading. For people interested I am using Amazon Kindle App on Nexus 7 for my reading.

SuperCooperators

Author: Martin Nowak, Roger Highfield
Publisher: Canongate
Price: 450/-
Pages: 288

The SuperCooperators is a book written by Martin Nowak who is the Professor of Biology and of Mathematics at Harvard University and Director of Harvard’s Program for Evolutionary Dynamics. The book is about his journey of research on what factors were responsible for the evolution of our species to a state/level we are right now. The book starts with an interesting premise of prisoner’s dilemma and dwells into the implications of same on our evolution, our development, and our behaviors.

The concept of cooperation in the backdrop of the evolutionary theory of “Survival of the fittest” not only raises a lot of interesting questions and arguments which would make one ponder but also gives valid arguments and justifications of the alternatives which are easily conceivable even by a layman. The book enters into a realm of how we evolved from chemicals to evolutionary single cell organisms. A question which almost everyone who has some exposure to the evolution always wondered.

The book will engross you in a fascinating journey of evolution, tickles your thought buds to question yourself on your existence. A book that makes you think about our behavior and why we do, what we do. The pace of the book is slow as the author gets into a lot of details on his theory and quoting and interpreting the research done by other scientists for the understanding of a layman reader. Overall the book leaves you spell bound thinking on the journey of our and many other species from a single cell organism. The book might be boring for people who lack interest in scientific (esp. biological and mathematical) aspects of our evolution and behavior.

Summary: A very interesting read for the non-fiction readers. Do pick up if you like the science genre.

Rating: 9/10

 

The Above Average Crisis

If you were following the T20 world cup this year and if you are an Indian I am sure you would be fairly disappointed. For the uninitiated India played 5 matches in the tournament, won 4 and lost 1. The aforementioned 1 lost match cost them their slot in the next round, just to clarify the competitors Australia & Pakistan who progressed to the next round also won 4 matches each so it boiled down to run rate and the margin of defeat. But that is not what this post is about. The point I am trying to make is about the increasing competitiveness in sport, and in all other aspects across the world. When all the teams have won equal number of matches the qualification depends upon statistical factors, when the cut-off marks for admission in the colleges are set at 100%, when the dream companies recruits only from XYZ colleges etc. and a lot of other scenarios which I am sure you would have got the drift. This post is about the ones who missed it with a whisker, people who were almost there, team which lost due to difference of 0.547 in the net run rate, the students who got 98%, the folks who could not clear the waiting list of the coveted XYZ college, “The Above Average”.

It is like when you are running amidst the crowd and find most of them to be behind you except a few. You are giving what it takes to remain ahead, you are playing it fair. But only when you try catch up with few left ahead you realize the playing field is not level, it never was. And suddenly you start to wonder what happened to the “Fair play”.

You desperately want to prove yourself that race you lost with a whisker is irrelevant, you look for opportunities but the world doesn’t allow you one. You want to make up for that split second you lost last time but the world has made it a mile now. You try to think about the loss ends up getting you more frustrated. You try to console yourself of being happy with what you have achieved but deep inside you know it is a just a consolation, just like “The Consolation Prize” which says you weren’t good enough we are generous people and we will give you something.

You wish that if you could turn back the winds of time, get back to that just one moment that made this difference. The moment where you missed by a small whisker, a few moments which can give you a chance to cover that split second distance when it wasn’t too late. The moment when you can succumb to the comfort of the known target and plans. The moment when you can bury the target of being “Above Average” once and for all; crowning in the glory of victory.

But none of it ever happens and you have to wait for the next big race, big match or the critical opportunity. You have to make peace and plan for the next big race in life and hope this time you cross the finish line before anyone does. That is the curse of being “Above Average”.

If you like this post or the blog, you can like my page on Facebook.

Life and Other KnickKnacks Like That

It has been a long time since I have posted anything on this blog. There have been a lot of things happening in life, probably too many things that this piece of my soul got ignored for a while. It is weird that when pressed upon we tend to give up things which are really close to us, give us real joy. The lord almighty has ensured that some stupidity is hard wired into the human nature, probably for the kick of it.
As will all the other old friends I think the best way to start a conversation is to answer “Wassup?” And this is what has been up right into my posterior. Needless to say I have been super busy; after my long term assignment was closed I am assigned to a new client which is based out of Hyderabad. This involved a month long stay in Hyderabad couple April-May and a forthcoming stay there for next couple of months; but thankfully I have managed to stay back and enjoy Bangalore for some time. Life is tough when you switch from multinational fortune 500 clients to our own desi family owned business clients. You don’t have luxury of relaxed timelines, 5 days work week and proper processes, that is what I am trying to cope with these days.

Apart from work there are lots of things happening on the personal front too. I bought a new car, so this baby is now old and this is currently my new ride and needless to say that I am loving it.

In other news parents finally decided to visit us after a two year long hiatus, as always spending time with them was a lot of fun. Loads of shopping, eating and sweets happened, all this when I was trying to lose some weight which I am sure I would have lost but only in the negative quantities. It was great to eat sweets from my home town Kanpur. I tend to believe when it comes to sweets there are very few places in India which can match up to the quality, taste and variety available in Kanpur. So overall last couple of months have been eventful and fun. The times to come look promising too and now that I am back to blogging will be writing and sharing things more often.
So to end today’s post I leave you with a hilarious joke I heard sometime back, keep laughing enjoy life.
Santa: Mujhse panga mat lena, main Sher Da Puttar hoon (Don’t mess with me, I am son of a lion)
Banta: Yaar ek baat to bata Sher ghar aaya tha ya fir aunty jungle gayi thi. (Buddy, tell me one thing did lion came to your house or your mother went to the jungle)

Bloody Racists

I have a friend who is extremely insistent on the point that Indians are one of the biggest racists. I have always wondered if a word as strong as racist is appropriate. I agree we are the ones who would stereotype faster than anybody else starting from “Gora”, “Kala”, “Chinky”, “Thulla”, “Software Wala”, “Sarkari Babu”, “North Indian”, “South Indian” are some of the most common stereotypes you would find people using.
I believe the key component which makes racism a negative trait is the belief or actions that a race or a stereotype in a way is inferior to others. The negativity of the racism stems from the fact that when the person stereotyping start treating himself as superior or inferior based on the race. The places or system starts differentiating people or the laws change for the people based on the race. As far as I know this negative kind of Racism is very limited in India; though we are involved in a different kind of phenomenon called Castism which differentiates based on birth but not on race/color of skin/ ethinicity.
Coming back to the point of Indians being racist, I have my doubts that people I interact with or myself are racist, though a lot of us including me can be accused of stereotyping and grouping people based on one way or the other but then do we get prejudiced against people of different race, or we bear unnatural hatred towards them? I don’t think so. We might group people, habits, culture and refer them with our stereotype but then we do not perpetuate hatred. I believe there have been some instances that these kind of sentiments are propagated but then it is not in lines of what actual racism is. We as a group of people might be conservative on who we marry and bring in family but that is more due to the cultural differences rather than the fact that we think that some other race is inferior to us in some way.
On the contrary I feel in a country like us it is close to impossible to be racist when there is a potpourri or cultures amalgamating and coexisting with one another it is very difficult to be racist, to feel hatred and superiority against the other. So what do you feel, are we Indians as a population primarily racist as my friend believes it to be or we are a bunch of people who are a tad too quick while generalizing and stereotyping?

Urban Shots – Crossroads

Editor: Ahmed Faiyaz 
Publisher: Grey Oak/ Westland
Price: 199/-
Pages: 217

Urban Shots Crossroads, is a collection of short stories by multiple authors. The collection tries to capture the various facets or the crossroads of life using the short stories as a medium. The collection spins tales across demographics, regions, and themes weaving tales spanning across human emotions. The collection is a fair mix of light and serious reads; stories that would bring out emotions in you and the stories that would take you by surprise.

The editor, Ahmed Faiyaz has done a good work building the compilation, he has ensured the stories could be enjoyed by the widest possible audience, and has mixed well leaving the specific sponsored stories from the competition which in some cases do not fit too well the compilation.

Some of the notable stories from the book-

The Gap (Saritha Rao): A strained relationship between a single mother and her daughter. An emotional story about how they rejuvenate their connect and bridge the generation gap.

Mindgames (Manish Dhingra): A total twister that is going to take you by surprise. A very well executed story of a man trying to handle his delusional wife.

Baba Premanand’s Yoga Class (Paritosh Uttam): A satirical story on the mob culture and the effects it can have on the victims. A well narrated story with a balanced ending, which would leave the reader thinking.

Hunch (Karthik K): A twisted tale again; the brilliance of this story lies in the narrative and handling of situation where the author has dropped hints but still managed not to give the story away.

Some more enjoyable tales from the collection- The Pink Slip (Malcolm Carvalho) and Mervin (Ahmed Faiyaz)

Summary: A great collection of stories, if you like short bites of fiction definitely pick this up for a small journey or devour each story in the bus during the commute.

Ratings: 7.5/10

 

Urban Shots – Bright Lights

Editor: Paritosh Uttam 
Publisher: Grey Oak/ Westland
Price: 199/-
Pages: 204
The Bright Lights Urban Shots collection is the compilation of twenty-nine short stories by twenty-one authors. In the editor’s words the idea behind Bright Lights was to illuminate the different aspects of urban life and he has been successful doing that. The assortment of stories in the book ensures that a wide Diaspora of the Urban Life is very well covered. There are stories about relationships, careers, ambition, deceit, passion and soul searching. The book is lighter as compared with the other two editions released alongside and makes for a quick fun read.

Double Mixed (Namit V. Nair): A beautiful story about infidel relationships and how people are trapped in one of the most awkward circumstances. A perfectly woven tale of human relationships that will leave you smiling.

Maami Menace (Pradeep D. Raj): A humorous story about an interfering old neighbour and a families’ effort to thwart her off. A story which has happened to almost all of us reminding of a neighbour whose visit we dreaded.

Jo Dikhta Hai Woh Bikta Hai (Sneh Thakur): A story about the ambitions of the youth and the ordeals of the FMCG industry. A story about how people start doing what it takes, a story about the eternal debate of end before means.

Mr. Periera (Ahmed Faiyaz): A warm and gooey story about two people between different generations with books as the bridge between them. This would remind you of the person who introduced you to your passion.

Some more enjoyable tales from the collection- Cats & Sponge (Meena Bhatnagar), Hot Masala (Jhangir Kerawala)

Summary: A fun collection of stories good to go for daily reading to liven up one’s mood.

Ratings: 7/10

 

The Big Banyan Tree

Standing on the crossroads, no real path to go
No road less travelled where I could tread and show,
My destiny lies in standing upright and facing the storm,
Be battered, beaten but still expected to stand strong.

Amidst my widespread hands the birds of season find their home,
Why is it that I am still at the crossroads when the birds are long gone,
When under my firmly grounded legs thou could find the divine light,
Then why the destiny limits me to protect mortals from the sun so bright?

When I watch the entire world going places and being the sport,
Why is it that I am the one who stands still holding the fort,
When the world is talking about freedom of movement and speech,
My destiny forces me to wear the silence on my lips and shackles on my feet.

In this exciting stage of the world where one is destined for a role,
All that the universe wanted me to be was a square peg in a round hole,
In these times of morbid souls and diminishing human camaraderie,
Perhaps it is my destiny to be at the crossroads, and be “The Big Banyan Tree”.

I am writing a poetry after a very long time, would love to read your comments on this one.

If you like this post or the blog, you can like my page on Facebook.